Pla­cen­tia wel­comes new Cana­dian cit­i­zens

The Compass - - Front Page - BY CHRIS LEWIS

PLA­CEN­TIA, NL — Fol­low­ing a cer­e­mony in Pla­cen­tia, sev­eral fam­i­lies can now call them­selves true Cana­di­ans.

The Pla­cen­tia Bay Cul­tural Arts Cen­tre hosted a Cana­dian cit­i­zen­ship cer­e­mony on Fri­day morn­ing, Aug. 4th, just be­fore the com­mu­nity’s Voices of Pla­cen­tia Bay Fes­ti­val.

The cer­e­mony saw a room full of new cit­i­zens, fam­ily mem­bers, and res­i­dents of Pla­cen­tia and sur­round­ing ar­eas, to­tal­ing to ap­prox­i­mately 100 peo­ple.

The new cit­i­zens, of which there were ap­prox­i­mately 25, were seated at the front of the crowd, and sat pa­tiently as they waited to be named of­fi­cial cit­i­zens of Canada.

The cer­e­mony be­gan just be­fore noon, with Pla­cen­tia Mayor Wayne Power Jr. pre­sent­ing a wel­com­ing speech to all new cit­i­zens at the cer­e­mony.

How­ever, no time was wasted as the cit­i­zen­ship cer­e­mony swiftly got to the mat­ter at hand. Not long af­ter the speeches, new cit­i­zens were asked to stand as they pro­ceeded to swear an oath of cit­i­zen­ship to their new home.

Fol­low­ing this, the newly sworn in cit­i­zens re­ceived in­di­vid­ual cer­tifi­cates, com­mem­o­rat­ing their cit­i­zen­ship.

The For­tuno fam­ily, who orig­i­nate from the Philip­pines, were four of the new cit­i­zens at the cer­e­mony. They re­ceived their cit­i­zen­ship cer­tifi­cates as a group – some­thing Rod­er­ick For­tuno says was a very proud mo­ment for him and his fam­ily.

Rod­er­ick moved to New­found­land back in 2009, tak­ing a job in Bay Bulls as a welder. A few years later in 2012, his wife,

Rhona, and their two chil­dren fol­lowed, fi­nally mak­ing the big step from South­east Asia to East­ern Canada as a fam­ily.

On Fri­day, af­ter spend­ing sev­eral years in the coun­try, the For­tunos be­came cit­i­zens of the coun­try they’ve grown to love.

“It’s a very, very big mo­ment for us,” Rod­er­ick told The Com­pass af­ter the cer­e­mony. “This is the fu­ture for us. We call Canada home now, and al­ways will.”

Hav­ing spent so much time in the coun­try, both Rod­er­ick and Rhona ad­mit that although the Philip­pines will al­ways hold a spe­cial place in their heart, they’re ex­cited for the move to Canada, and look for­ward to the op­por­tu­ni­ties their new home will bring.

“We haven’t seen as much of Canada as we would like, but hope­fully that will change in the fu­ture,” said Rhona.

“It’s very beau­ti­ful here. Es­pe­cially here in New­found­land,” Rod­er­ick added.

The For­tunos said they’d like to get the chance to see more of what their new home has to of­fer, and look for­ward to what their new cit­i­zen­ship means for them as a fam­ily.

De­spite the ex­cite­ment of the day, Rod­er­ick also told The Com­pass that he has, and prob­a­bly al­ways will, find it dif­fi­cult be­ing so far from the rest of his fam­ily.

“We love it here, of course. We love Canada. But we will miss our fam­ily,” he said. “They are so far away now. This is our home, this is where our chil­dren will grow up, and this is prob­a­bly where we will live for­ever, but we will never for­get the peo­ple – our fam­ily and friends – that still live back in the Philip­pines.”

When asked how they plan to cel­e­brate their new cit­i­zen­ship, both Rhona and Rod­er­ick an­swered with a sin­gle word – party.

The cer­e­monies came to a close around 1 that af­ter­noon, with the cut­ting of a cake dec­o­rated to look like the Cana­dian flag, and the singing of the na­tional an­them by the proud new cit­i­zens.

“Very few of us share the same path,” said Pla­cen­tia Mayor Wayne Power Jr., “but we all, as Cana­di­ans, share the same fu­ture.”

CHRIS LEWIS/THE COM­PASS

Dozens of new Cana­dian cit­i­zens gath­ered around a cake to cel­e­brate their cit­i­zen­ship.

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